Q&A

Is it OK to simply refuse to hire sex offenders?

05/20/2015
Q. After narrowing our search to one candidate, we learned that the applicant may be listed as a registered sex offender. We would just rather not hire this applicant. Can we legally do that?

Can we require English-only on the job?

05/20/2015
Q. We want to require our employees to read, speak and write English at work. Is such a policy legal?

Must we pay for time spent preparing to work?

05/18/2015
Q. We have an employee who regularly comes into work a half-hour or more before her scheduled shift in order to get her work station ready and otherwise get herself set up for the day. This preparation time is important to the employee because she does not believe that she can meet the production requirements of her job without it. The employee has been told that she cannot start performing her actual job tasks until the start of her scheduled shift. Our new HR manager has advised that we must pay the employee for the time that she spends preparing for her shift, even though she had no approval to work during that time. Is that right?

May we remove a restaurant server from shifts because of sores on her face?

05/18/2015
Q. We have a server at one of our restaurants who has open sores on her face. She claims she can’t get a bandage to stick to her chin, leaving the sore uncovered. As a result, we have received a few customer complaints. May we remove the server from her shifts so that we do not lose business?

How can we structure a policy that lets us search employees' belongings?

05/04/2015
Q. I am worried that some of my employees are storing illicit or illegal items at work. Is there a way for me to legally search their belongings?

Which laws cover military leave?

05/04/2015
Q. Some of the employees at my construction company are members of the military and scheduled for active duty in the near future. What laws and regulations apply to me and my employees who are in the military?

Can smokers claim an ADA disability to justify taking lengthy smoke breaks?

05/04/2015
Q. I own and run a paper company in Texas. Some of my employees who are cigarette smokers regularly take more breaks than the two, 15-minute breaks that are allowed under their employment contract—and some of the nonsmokers in the office are getting angry. When I confront the smokers about this conduct, I am increasingly hearing them make an unusual claim—that they have a “disability” and are protected by law. What should I do?

How do we prevent negligent hiring claims?

04/29/2015
Q. I recently read an article about employees who were attacked or harassed at work by other employees who never should have been hired in the first place. How can an employer reduce its risk of liability for negligent hiring?

Is it ever OK for a boss to change a time sheet?

04/29/2015
Q. Is it illegal for managers to change exempt or nonexempt employees’ time sheets if they neglect to indicate that they took a day off?

Did my innocent employment ad really open me up to charges of discrimination?

04/21/2015
Q. I recently posted want ads to hire new employees. Recently, I received a letter from someone who wants to sue me for “deterring applicants.” The ads that I sent out simply stated my company’s name and address, the position available and that applicants who are younger and live nearby are preferred. What did I do wrong?

What constitutes an essential job function?

04/21/2015
Q. I hand a brochure titled “Job Information and Requirements” to each new hire I bring on board to my construction company. With the addition of new positions, I need to draft new brochures with job descriptions, but am having trouble determining the essential job functions. Is there a specific method that I can use to decide whether a job function is essential?

Could we be liable for accidental bias against those or 'associated with' protected groups?

04/21/2015
Q. As a California employer, I realize that I cannot discriminate against employees who belong to protected groups. But what if I mistakenly think that an employee is or is not a member of one of these groups, and accidentally treat him or her in a way that is discriminatory?

Is early termination OK when employee who is on FMLA submits her resignation?

04/13/2015
Q. An employee who is off on an approved FMLA leave just submitted her resignation, providing two weeks’ notice. Our employee handbook asks employees to provide a two-week notice when possible. May we terminate the employee’s employment immediately rather than wait two weeks?

Can we restrict service dogs at work?

04/13/2015
Q. An employee with epilepsy wants to bring a dog to work to assist her in the event of a seizure. Our business is not conducive to having animals at work. Must we permit her to bring her dog?

How should we provide required posters for employees who work from home?

04/13/2015
Q. We have a number of employees who work solely from home. For them, is electronic delivery or posting of the notice required by the new Women’s Economic Security Act sufficient? Do we need to have the employee acknowledge receipt?
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